It seems the whole world waits with bated breath, watching a situation unfold that will define the course of history. If evil has its way, no life will remain untouched. A nation in turmoil, riots filling the streets, and an oppressed people demanding the death that would lead to liberty. Jerusalem, AD 33.
Millenia later, the world is again torn apart at the seams. Civil War in Myanmar. Conflict in the Middle East. Violence and epidemic marring every hemisphere and now, the European continent tottering on the brink of war. If evil has its way, no life will remain untouched.
My friend, these are days of darkness and great agony. The news headlines are grave. In this season of world-wide crisis, my own heart would be overwhelmed—were it not also a season, for the Church, of hourly dependence upon God.
Those in the Holy Church regard this time as the beginning of Great Lent. Thus, as tragedy unfolds around us, the Church kneels to orient our hearts toward the Cross—that day when the Prince of Peace would surrender His own life, defeating death, so that all may be restored to reign with Him.
Faith Overcomes Fear
Lent is a season of feeling the depth of our need through fasting. A time of consecrating ourselves to be used by Him, through almsgiving. And a time of devoting our time to prayer and confessing our frailty.
- When we witness the brokenness in the world around us—let us turn to Him in prayer.
- When we stand by helpless as millions are displaced in the Ukraine—let us turn to Him in prayer and fasting.
- When we feel overcome by the weight of the world—let us turn to Him in prayer.
Fear would have its way with us, and paralyze us. It deters us from looking for faith. Instead, we see only hurdles, impossibilities and hopelessness ahead
Faith and fear cannot be compatible. When we begin with fear, we end up with fear; but when we begin with faith, we see hope, healing and deliverance.
How can we replace fear with faith? The answer is prayer! It’s confession! It’s trusting in God’s Word! Start praying now. Ask for more faith to believe in God’s promises, to believe in His sovereignty. And to trust Him to do the impossible.
God is sovereign, and we can trust Him to lead us. When we don’t understand what’s happening or when we feel insecure, overwhelmed, or inadequate, let us rest in His character. His faithfulness can grant us peace. Jesus Himself said, “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). He also gave His disciples the authority to extend peace wherever they went! (Matthew 10:11-13) We may rest secure in God’s sovereign hands.
Overcome Evil with Good
In Romans 12, we witness the powerful work of God in and through the Body of Christ.
Paul urges believers to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” This, he says, is our spiritual worship! (Romans 12:1,2). In response, God transforms us by His grace, making us into something altogether new!
The Body of Christ is one body, made up of many members, with differing functions, and with gifts according to His grace (Romans 12:3-8). Today, some offer shelter, some fight for peace, some stand up for justice, some minister to injured, some sacrifice; we each have our own assignment, and let us be faithful and fervent to complete it for His glory.
In the second half of Romans 12, we read about what it looks like when our faith is lived out, when the Body of Christ is marked by true belief.
Let love be genuine. . . Abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good. . . Outdo one another in showing honor. . . Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. . . Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. . . Bless those who persecute you. . . Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. . . Never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God. . . (Romans 12:9-20).
After this litany of vivid depictions of the marks of a true Christian, we read these rallying words:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21).
Our Response to Uncertainty
News of evil may bombard us and close in from every direction, but when we are holding fast to the faith, we are holding fast to the One who saves. Through prayer, holiness, and surrender, may we encounter Christ in new ways, be changed by Him, and represent Him to the world. When the world urges us to panic in the face of uncertainty, or to despair as great powers wage around us, may we each stand steadfast and faithful as His Body.
In the midst of crisis and agony, look for ways that you can bring Christ’s peace. Take one small step today to walk out the life described in Romans 12:9-21. Make one small choice, and commit to pray, fast, or give during this Lenten season, remembering always that—”The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5).